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Strategic Earth Resources (MSc) 2022 entry

The MSc in Strategic Earth Resources prepares students for the challenges in resource extraction in the 21st century. It tackles not only the geological skills and understanding required for mineral exploration targeting and estimation, but also the economic, environmental, and social aspects of mining: from exploration, extraction to remediation. 

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Key information

Course type

Postgraduate, leading to a Master of Science (MSc)

Course dates

  • Start date: 5 September 2022
  • End date: 30 September 2023

Information about all programmes from previous years of entry can be found in the archive.

Course duration

One year full time or two years part time

Entry requirements

The qualifications listed are indicative minimum requirements for entry. Some academic Schools will ask applicants to achieve significantly higher marks than the minimum. Obtaining the listed entry requirements will not guarantee you a place, as the University considers all aspects of every application including, where applicable, the writing sample, personal statement, and supporting documents.

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Tuition fees

Home: £12,590
Overseas: £25,450

Application deadline

Thursday 11 August 2022. Applicants should apply as early as possible due to limited spaces, and to be eligible for certain scholarships and for international visa purposes.

Application requirements

  • CV or résumé
  • personal statement
  • two original signed academic references
  • academic transcripts and degree certificates
  • evidence of English language proficiency (required if English is not your first language).

For more guidance, see supporting documents and references for postgraduate taught programmes.

Course information

The MSc in Strategic Earth Resources is a one-year postgraduate degree run by the School of Earth and Environmental Sciences. It is designed to prepare students for the challenges in resource exploration in the 21st century, combining core knowledge, fieldwork, short courses, seminars, and a research dissertation. 

The course covers the fundamental processes leading to the formation of ore deposits. It provides hands-on training in both the classroom and field in the latest digital and remote sensing mapping techniques and 3D geological modelling. It will additionally cover the economic, environmental, and social (ESG) aspects of mining: from exploration, extraction, to remediation, as well as topics such as critical metals and sustainable mining, the global climate challenge, and energy alternatives such as geothermal. Students also take additional optional topics either in geodynamics, climate science, or advanced geochemistry.

Students gain knowledge and experience through:

  • preparing seminars
  • interacting with invited guest lecturers from industry
  • visiting mine sites.

Knowledge is consolidated through both an industry or research-focused dissertation, and through an international field course.

The MSc is targeted both at new graduates seeking a career in the resources industry or as preparation for an applied PhD, and also at professional exploration geologists with several years industry experience seeking to move into an exploration strategy role.

Teaching format

The MSc in Strategic Earth Resources is a comprehensive course that combines core knowledge, fieldwork, short courses, student-led seminars and a research dissertation.

The MSc degree requires two semesters of full-time (or four semesters part-time) coursework equivalent to a total of eight taught modules, and includes over 20 days in the field. The assessment for the taught modules is based on coursework and written examinations.

The final three months of your course will be focused on independent research which concludes with a 12,000-word field or laboratory-based dissertation.

Further particulars regarding curriculum development


The modules in this programme have varying methods of delivery and assessment. For more details of each module, including weekly contact hours, teaching methods and assessment, please see the latest module catalogue which is for the 2021-2022 academic year; some elements may be subject to change for 2022 entry.

Across the first two semesters, students must take the following compulsory modules:

  • Core to Crust Ore Genesis - High T: focuses on the geological processes, geodynamic setting, and mineralogy of the principal metallic and non-metallic mineral deposits related to magmatic and magmatic-hydrothermal processes.
  • Core to Crust Ore Genesis - Low T: focuses on the geological processes, geodynamic setting, and mineralogy of the principal metallic and non-metallic mineral deposits related to low-temperature hydrothermal and surficial processes.
  • Applied Digital Field Methods: field-based module that focuses on creating and interpreting surface and underground maps, and on drone-based or other remote sensing exploration technologies.
  • Exploration to Estimation: explores the fundamental geochemical and geophysical concepts used by the mineral exploration industry and covers key aspects leading to mineral resource estimation.
  • Global Resource Challenges: tackles the economic, environmental, societal, geopolitical and ethical issues regarding mining, and future challenges shaping mineral exploration into the mid-21st century. It includes field trips to see the environmental impact of mining. 
  • Statistics and Analytical Sciences: provides students with a strong background in statistics and methods of data analysis used in Earth Sciences.
  • Field Excursion: field course to see major deposit types and mining operations.

Students can choose from three optional modules:

  • Geodynamics: studies the geodynamic evolution of Earth's crust through geological time, the evolution of convergent and divergent margins, and the relationships between tectonics, erosion and climate. The module develops skills of geodynamic interpretation, field observation and use of numerical models.
  • Special Topics in Climate Science: tackles a variety of topical research subjects in climate science, such as climate sensitivity, past warm climates, external forcing, and geo-engineering.
  • Advanced Geochemistry: trains students in the advanced techniques and methodologies used to address fundamental and applied questions related to the Earth system and the cycling of natural materials between fluid and solid phases.

Optional modules are subject to change each year and require a minimum number of participants to be offered; some may only allow limited numbers of students (see the University’s position on curriculum development).

The third semester of the MSc course focuses on independent field or laboratory-based research conducted with an academic supervisor. The topic is defined by the student and can be chosen from research foci within the School, or with an external industrial or academic partner. For laboratory-based dissertations, students will have full access to the state-of-the-art analytical facilities available at St Andrews.

The research project will involve:

  • project formulation, together with the chosen supervisor
  • proposal writing and analytical design
  • oral presentation for feedback on the proposed study
  • data collection, integration and interpretation
  • presentation of the project results via a poster conference
  • a dissertation of not more than 12,000 words, submitted by a date towards the end of August.

If students choose not to complete the dissertation requirement for the MSc, there is an exit award available that allows suitably qualified candidates to receive a Postgraduate Diploma. By choosing an exit award, you will finish your degree at the end of the second semester of study and receive a PGDip instead of an MSc.

The modules listed here are indicative, and there is no guarantee they will run for 2022 entry. Take a look at the most up-to-date modules in the module catalogue.

Meet us online

If you're interested in studying at St Andrews, join us on a virtual visiting day or daily information session to find out about our courses, how to apply, and to meet current students. 

The next virtual visiting day will be in November 2021.

Virtual events

Join our Admissions team for one of our upcoming virtual events. During these events, you can find out more about studying at St Andrews and what it will do for your future.

Online information events

Events and seminars

The School of Earth and Environmental Sciences holds weekly seminars with expert guest speakers from the UK and abroad. Students are invited to attend and to meet the speaker one-on-one. 

Members of the School also typically attend the annual Mineral Deposits Studies Group research-in-progress meeting, as well as the meetings of other specialist groups such as Geochemical Group or the Volcanic and Magmatic Studies Group. Students can apply for bursaries to attend these conferences, which take place in the UK.


Recent Graduate Discount
The University of St Andrews offers a 10% discount in postgraduate tuition fees to students who are eligible to graduate or who have graduated from St Andrews within the last three academic years and are starting a postgraduate programme with the University of St Andrews.

Find out more about postgraduate scholarships

After the MSc

Research degrees

The comprehensive and rigorous MSc course provides relevant preparation for pursuing a career in the mineral industry sector and also prepares students for PhD-level research.

PhD in Earth Sciences


Because of the importance of the extractive industries to society, the economy and the environment, economic geologists are employed in:

  • mineral, oil, gas and petroleum industries
  • engineering, environmental and financial sectors
  • geological surveys
  • consultancy companies
  • academia.

The Careers Centre offers one-to-one advice to all students on a taught postgraduate course and offers a programme of events to assist students in building their employability skills.

"This course is extremely broad – I have learnt about topics with relevance to geotechnical engineering, petroleum geoscience and planetary science, all whilst maintaining an intense focus on ore deposits. There is a wide range of analytical equipment, which gives you more scope in terms of what you can do for your dissertation.

The postgraduate community is extremely friendly and there is very good camaraderie between senior academics and students. The broad curriculum of study has allowed me to confidently discover my specific interests. I feel like the breadth of the course has made it more transferable for a wide range of careers."

- Belfast, Northern Ireland


School of Earth and Environmental Sciences
University of St Andrews
Bute Building
St Andrews
KY16 9TS

Phone: +44 (0)1334 46 3940

School of Earth and Environmental Sciences


Admission to the University of St Andrews is governed by our admissions policy.

Information about all programmes from previous years of entry can be found in the archive.

Curriculum development

As a research intensive institution, the University ensures that its teaching references the research interests of its staff, which may change from time to time. As a result, programmes are regularly reviewed with the aim of enhancing students' learning experience. Our approach to course revision is described online.

Tuition fees

The University will clarify compulsory fees and charges it requires any student to pay at the time of offer. The offer will also clarify conditions for any variation of fees. The University’s approach to fee setting is described online.

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